There is no getting away from the fact that these are literally unchartered territories. None of us have been through anything like this and it is almost futile to speculate as to how this whole outbreak will leave us as individuals or the profession overall. 

I dare say that all of us will remember what we were doing at 20:30 on 23rd March 2020 and talk about it in years ahead to kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. For many of our children, this will be the big disease outbreak that they learn about in school and we can give them first-hand accounts of what we did, how we managed and coped, and perhaps most importantly what we learned. 

What are the realities of the coronavirus outbreak for you?

Whilst it affects us all differently on a psychological and emotional level, those of us in clinical practice have gone from a circumstance where we help people face-to-face on a day in day out and have a multitude of interactions every hour to being housebound. 

Furlough

Many vets and nurses will be furloughed in the weeks and months ahead in order to keep practices afloat, and as such you will find yourselves with a lot of time on your hands: not something that many of us are used to but something that we have pondered about what we would do with for years leading up to this. My advice is simple, take that opportunity. Yes, you may be housebound, but recharge. Go for your walk and do that thing you have wanted to do but not got round to, reconnect with people who you simply don’t have time to talk to normally. 

At this stage, the pandemic has brought about so many questions that we don’t know the answers to. There are many unknowns, but most of these won’t affect us or they certainly don’t have to. 

People will always have pets and they will always get sick, so we as a professional will always be here, but it has served to open up our eyes to some of our biggest fears on a personal and professional level. We may even question that age-old assumption of ‘it’s ok, we are vets and the world will always need us…’. Sure, they still need us, but in what capacity? 

Telemedicine

The digital revolution of the world has truly come to the fore, with the previously controversial topic of teleconsulting becoming a front and centre method for practices to keep revenue coming in and maintain the support of their client base. One thing is for sure, as a client base become more used to having this facility available to them…whether it’s a free WhatsApp video or an expensive app that someone pays for somewhere, how will it affect the running of a GP practice we can only speculate during its infancy, but rest assured it will. I hope this impact will be for the better. 

How will we work after the outbreak?

Will peoples’ eyes will be opened to new possibilities and methods of working as a veterinary professional? Will the changes that we as a profession have to include during this period become expected by Joe and Josephine public? Will we be able to go back to how it was? Do we all need to be in the clinic all the time or is a more flexible veterinary future at its dawning? What will happen to salaries? Many businesses may well be on their knees financially after this plays out, so how do they afford to bring people in and support them?

Will locums want to take on permanent roles to offer some level of security in the uncertain times that lie ahead, but yet in such extreme circumstances as these we can see how there is not even any certainty for those who are employed. 

What will happen to the vast swathes of pets whose vaccinations have lapsed and need to restart, will the shift how we vaccinate our patients and lead to an increase in testing for vaccine status pre-dosing? 

We are already seeing the good (and bad) in people, the benefits to the global environmental circumstances and countless chances to look to how we can be ‘better’ when this is all over.

One thing is for sure, when this is all over, and it will be over at some point, the world will be a different place. Society will change, I hope for the better. As a profession we will have changed, there will be a good and bad change, and we won’t all agree with those changes. That is the joy of living in the time and place that we do: we don’t all have to agree, but we are all in this together! 

I still think everyone in this profession in this profession is a hero. I hope you all stay safe, stay well and manage to put aside any building financial concerns that may be causing us all anguish. 

You can listen to Ben interview Simon Whitehead about Furlough and what this means in the veterinary profession here

Don’t forget to register for Sunday’s updated webinar with BVA president Daniella Dos Santos to discuss updates on the veterinary profession and the Covid-19 outbreak here